Into the longbox (more catching up)

I wanted to mention a few collections/graphic novels I’ve finished in the last couple months that didn’t get into one of the other longbox posts.

Girl Genius 4: Agatha Heterodyne and the Circus of Dreams, Girl Genius 5: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess, and Girl Genius 6: Agatha Heterodyne and the Golden Trilobite, Phil and Kaja Foglio. These are a great chance to see excellent creators at the top of their game. Phil’s been doing comics a long time and his writing/plotting chemistry with Kaja seems to make everything stronger. Girl Genius really shows off their personal blend of humor and drama. Better than that, their mad scientists are all geeks with the volume turned up to 11, and they get them exactly right. Highly recommended. You can read the whole thing online.

Skellington, The Retribution Index, Great Aches, and Heavy Metal Hearts + Flowers, John Allison. These are all Scary-Go-Round collections, and all of them but Heavy Metal Hearts + Flowers are online. Scary-Go-Round has long been a favorite here on the moon. Its clean expressive art and whip-smart dialog make every arc a great delight. Of course, Allison can get a little lost on his way to the big picture – a quirk that is becoming less common as he goes on – but the joys above more than compensate for the occasional wandering storyline or abandoned set-up. It’s good fun.

Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye For An Eye, Levitz, Geffin, Lightle, Orlando. This reprints the first 6 issues of the 1984 prestige series, including the death of Karate Kid. Now, if that sounds super campy to you, you should skip right on to the next review. I’m a LSH fan, and something like this collection is hard to resist. I kind of wish I had. It’s great to see the old Lightle art, and to a lesser extent the Geffin art, but the story is a lot more disjointed than I remember it. It’s certainly difficult to juggle the Legion’s large cast, and Levitz was always good at communicating a lot of action with a few broad strokes of writing. It seems like this was accomplished by immersing the reader in the world month-by-month, and looking back from 20 years later, it doesn’t flow as well.

More importantly, Karate Kid’s death was really disappointing. (I suppose these are spoilers.) This was something that had happened off-panel for me, and the short explanation – sacrificed himself fighting Nemesis Kid when the LSV conquered Orando – always sounded like a way the Kid might go out. But the actual scene is just awful. The Kid ditches the rest of the Legion to fight Nemesis Kid hand to hand to “settle a personal score.” Val is simply not this dumb; Nemesis Kid can beat any single combatant by definition – you don’t fight him alone if there’s any other choice. As a result it looks like KK threw his life away by being pig headed, and that’s a lousy thing to know. Bleah.

Yeah, I know how dumb it sounds for a grown man to be ticked off that 20 years ago Karate Kid fought Nemesis Kid out of character and lost, but that’s the way it is.

Powers 11: Cosmic, Powers 12: Secret Identity, Bendis and Oeming. Mmmm Powers. I keep thinking that Bendis and Oeming’s gritty cop drama set in a world with superheroes has nowhere else to go, and they keep surprising me with new ideas and new character interactions. Really it’s Deena and Walker – the lead characters – who carry this all. They’re flawed people doing their best to eek out some sense of fairness and justice in a world with all the corruption and venality of ours, magnified by super powers. They’re flawed to the point that they’re as real as their world is a fantasy; I probably wouldn’t much like meeting them. Still, as long as they stay real, I’ll keep coming back.

Goodnight Irene: The Collected Stories of Irene Van de Kamp, Carol Lay. When I stroll through the comics store and see a collection of Carol Lay comics about a character I don’t know with an introduction by Mike Mothersbaugh of Devo, well, you’ve got my attention. Irene is one of the richest women on Earth, who happens to have been raised by the Ubangi people and has the radical body alterations common to that culture. And she lives in a world informed by 60’s romance comics. It’s both a lot of fun and certainly will keep the analysts busy. Even if you don’t want to think vary hard, these are winning stories with an interesting protagonist set in a fantastic world. They’re drawn by Carol Lay, so they’re gorgeous. If you do want to think there’s stuff to chew on.

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